Home » 2013 Cross Country Road Trip

San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA and Side Trips to San Francisco, CA

Sunday, July 14, 2013 - 4:00pm by Lolo
117 miles and 2.5 hours from our last stop - 6 night stay


Bacon and ProsciuttoBacon and ProsciuttoThe remainder of the trip was more of a settling of the RV into its new home, and Andrew into his. We were fortunate to discover the San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA to use as our base camp for the next 6 days. It is a really wonderful campground in so many ways.

It has a great location – 45 minutes to the Golden Gate Bridge, a half hour to Marin County, and about an hour to Napa Valley.

There is a huge, heated pool and hot tub with dozens of comfortable lounge chairs around it, and tons of activities for kids – although sadly we were long past that stage. They also run guided tours to San Francisco and the Wine Country.

Also, the campground was extremely well maintained and run, so much so that we decided to entrust our beloved motorhome to their care. For $75 a month, we could store the motorhome in their secured, fenced-in storage area, and our Subaru in the overflow field.

Hike at Annadel State ParkHike at Annadel State ParkWe spent the next few days depressurizing from what had been a trip filled with so many emotions. Those lounge chairs at the pool certainly helped with the process.

Celeste’s (Andrew’s girlfriend) parents live about 20 minutes from Petaluma, so we had a chance to do a lot of fun, low-key activities with them and the kids. They are the most amazing hosts and chefs, so it was absolutely wonderful going over to their house for dinner a few times.

I spent one fun-filled day with Andrew at the California DMV, transferring the title for the Honda and getting a California driver’s license. We had no idea that California required a smog certification, so we lost time in the DMV line having to leave, get that done, and come back to wait on line again. It was quite a hoot.

Very appropriately after a day at the DMV, we met up with Celeste and her folks at the Lagunitas Brewery, right in Petaluma. The food choices were somewhat limited, but food is not the reason people come here. We sat at an outside table, ordered samplers of beer, and listened to live music. It was a very fun evening.

Lolo with Pier 39 TouristsLolo with Pier 39 TouristsHerb and I also took a few trips into San Francisco. The first time we drove down and parked near the waterfront and walked over to Fisherman’s Wharf. We knew it was touristy, but I had never seen it and I wanted to. It was a bit crowded, as we suspected, but fun nonetheless.

However, I did embarrassingly fall victim to the notorious “Bushman” of Fisherman’s Wharf, who for the last 30 years has been frightening unsuspecting tourists, such as myself. I think I was probably the only one in the crowd that didn’t know that the bush on the edge of the sidewalk was not in reality a bush, but rather a madman who has too much time on his hands. I almost had a heart attack when he jumped out at me.

After my heart stopped pounding, we continued our walk, keeping an eye out for incongruous objects. I would not be so easily fooled again.

I wanted to figure out some good biking San Francisco options for later in the week, so I stopped at various bike rental vendors along the way, pretended I was interested in renting a bike the next day, and asked them for suggestions as to where I should go. By the time I was done, I had pretty much settled on parking in Marin, biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, down to Fort Point, and over to Crissy Field.

Fisherman's Wharf Love LockFisherman's Wharf Love LockAfter our brief tour of San Francisco, we met up with Andrew and Celeste to see the apartment they had just signed a lease on. It was located on Clement Street in the Inner Richmond. The place was amazing – three bedrooms (they would be sharing with friends from college), beautiful hardwood floors, a huge kitchen, living room, and dining room, and two bathrooms. It was in a nice, safe, Asian neighborhood with plenty of good restaurants and small grocery shops to walk to. It was the kind of place I knew they would be happy in, so I felt a tremendous sense of relief. Hunting for an apartment in San Francisco is not for the faint of heart. There is so much competition that apartment hunters practically bribe the realtors to get first dibs. They were very, very lucky to get this place.

A few days later we did take that bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. The main Vista Point parking lot for people walking or biking across the bridge is at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge and can only be reached coming from the south. Since we didn’t want to drive across the bridge, pay the southbound toll, and then just turn around and drive across again, we parked in the lesser known lot on the southbound side of 101, just north of the bridge. From there, we walked our bikes down a set of stairs and under the bridge to get to the Vista Point parking lot on the northbound side.

Crissy Field from Bike RideCrissy Field from Bike RideWe were definitely not the only ones with the idea of biking across the bridge. It was packed with cyclists, many of whom looked like they were riding a bike for the first time. You had to go pretty slow and be constantly on the defensive. Also, despite the fact that it was mid-July, it was frigid out. Now mind you, Herb hates the cold, and he couldn’t understand why he should be spending his summertime in California wearing a parka. He told me of a Mark Twain quote that I had never heard before: “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.” I suggested that he think more positively. I mean really, just look at the view!

After maneuvering our way across the Golden Gate, we rode down to Fort Point Historic Park, located right underneath the bridge. From there, we rode along the waterfront, past the giant outdoor sculptures, by such artists as Mark di Suvero, to the sandy beach at Crissy Field where we watched the America’s Cup boats practicing out in the Bay—and all this with Alcatraz and Sausolito in the background. What an amazing place! I definitely knew that Andrew and Celeste would be happy living here. I already knew Celeste would. She was from this area. It was my East Coast boy I was a bit more worried about.

Paul Composing a Photo at Lagunitas BreweryPaul Composing a Photo at Lagunitas BrewerySince we had plans for dinner in San Francisco that evening with Andrew and Celeste and her parents and their friends, we biked back across the Golden Gate to our car and then drove back into the city to their apartment.

Their neighborhood has so many restaurants in walking distance. We walked over to an Italian place called Mescolanza. The food was great and the company even better, so we had a really good time.

We spent the last day at the KOA prepping the motorhome for storage. It was going to be very weird flying home and leaving it behind.

Things were coming together though. Tommy was happily settled in Seattle, Andrew and Celeste had found a beautiful apartment in San Francisco, Andrew had nabbed a job in Mill Valley, which he would be starting the week after we left, and the RV had a nice, new home in Petaluma. We should be so lucky.


Petaluma KOA PoolPetaluma KOA PoolThe Petaluma KOA is an award winning camping resort located within an hour’s drive of San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma Valley Wineries, giant redwoods, and Sonoma County and California Coastal Beaches. It is considered to be the RV resort in the San Francisco Bay area.

On its 70 acres, there are 312 spacious RV sites, 32 camping cabins, and 10 Wine Country lodges.

Other amenities include:
• Guided tours of San Francisco (from May through October)
• Huge heated pool and spa
• Inflatable waterslide
• Rock climbing wall
• Huge playground
• Petting zoo
• Karaoke
• Hayrides and live weekend entertainment

The campground is open all year.

San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA and Side Trips to San Francisco location map in "high definition"

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